By Andrew Russell
March is Fraud Prevention Month, an annual event promoted across the country by the RCMP and federal government aimed at raising awareness about the ongoing problem of fraud.
‘The grandparent scam’ is one of the thousands of scams and confidence tricks that prey on human emotion to bilk residents for financial gain, police say.
The scam starts with an elderly person taking a phone call purportedly to be from a grandchild in distress, in need of money or in trouble with the law and with no other place to turn, police told Humber News.
“Everybody at some point will be targeted by a fraud or scam. You have to prepare yourself,” Det. Alan Spratt, with Toronto Police Financial Crimes Unit, told Humber News.
“Here in Canada we have a high level of consumer confidence. Where we go wrong is when we apply that level of confidence with online purchases or when speaking with strangers.”
Seniors can be particularly vulnerable to fraud due to loneliness or fall victim to online scams because of a lack of tech skills, said Spratt
The federal Competition Bureau is promoting fraud awareness with its publication “The Little Black Book of Scams,” which outlines popular scams targeting Canadians and advice on how to avoid being duped.
“Canadians need to be vigilant about fraud not only during the month of March, but all year-long and through public awareness, Canadians can be informed about how to better protect themselves,” Minister of Public Safety Vic Toews, said in a release late last week.
Spratt echoed Toews’s comments stating that education is the key to reducing the number of victims.
“Education and enforcement is one of the things we engage in regularly, doing public talks and putting out press releases on popular,” said Spratt.
The financial crimes unit additionally uses disruptive measures, obtaining emails or shutting down phone numbers, to stop fraudsters along with prosecuting all fraud cases.
Until the end of the month, the RCMP and financial crimes agencies across the country will participate in programs to help reduce the number of Canadians affected by fraud.